Move over, stacks of reference materials. Make way for the Learning Commons.
It’s not your grandmother’s library anymore.
The academic library, once just a place to find information, is evolving into a place where students also receive assistance using that information, as academic libraries move toward a new model that includes expanded services and broad academic support.
“We used to think about libraries in terms of how many volumes they had,” said David Murray, executive director of the Bankier Library at Brookdale Community College. “Now, it’s what you do with that information that is important,” he said.
For Brookdale students working in the library on the Lincroft campus, the shift means finding professional tutoring help right around the corner. This semester, the library launched its new drop-in Library Tutoring Center, a designated area along the eastern wall of the library’s ground floor. There, professional tutors in writing, reading and speech are available for help during selected days and hours.
Gone are several long rows of shelves that once housed paper versions of reference materials. In their place are wooden tables and chairs, whiteboards and a table where students sign up for on-the-spot academic help.
“University libraries are realizing that they cannot afford to be seen as warehouses for printed materials,” according to a recent article in Planning for Higher Education. “To stay relevant, academic libraries must evolve to meet students’ needs and lifestyles,” the article said.
The move is consistent with the American Association of Community College’s (AACC) emphasis on supporting student engagement with the learning process, Murray explained.
“Students receive the help they need when they need it. It’s seamlessly integrated into the learning process,” said Kathy Vasile, one of the learning assistants from the Writing Center who works with students in the Tutoring Center.
In the Library Tutoring Center this semester, writing and research help is available from Writing Center learning assistants every Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reading and study skills help is available from Reading Center learning assistants Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesday evenings from 4 to 7. Speech and communication help is available from learning assistants in the Speech Department Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 12:30 to 4:30, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1 to 5 and Fridays from 10 to 1.
Help from a learning assistant in writing can entail breaking an assignment down into pieces, finding relevant research, creating an outline, citing sources or revising a draft. Help from a speech learning assistant might involve assistance in researching and organizing a Power Point presentation. Help from a reading learning assistant can help a student comprehend a difficult research article or a challenging textbook chapter. As always, research help is also available from the library staff.
Students looking for help are asked to sign in at the table adjacent to the tutoring area and will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.